How To Be A Tudor, A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide To Tudor Life

Book Review : How To Be A Tudor,
A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide To Tudor Life

By Ruth Goodman

Spoiler Alert!



On the heels of her triumphant How to Be a Victorian, Ruth Goodman travels even further back in English history to the era closest to her heart, the dramatic period from the crowning of Henry VII to the death of Elizabeth I. Drawing on her own adventures living in re-created Tudor conditions, Goodman serves as our intrepid guide to sixteenth-century living. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work celebrates the ordinary lives of those who labored through the era. From sounding the “hue and cry” to alert a village to danger to malting grain for homemade ale, from the gruesome sport of bear-baiting to cuckolding and cross-dressing—the madcap habits and revealing intimacies of life in the time of Shakespeare are vividly rendered for the insatiably curious. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I love the odd little bits of trivia found in a book like How To Be A Tudor. Ruth Goodman is also passionate about her subject which makes it more fun to read. She is incredibly knowledgeable because she has spent much of her life living like a Tudor.

A couple of my favorite pieces of trivia:

The saying “sleep tight” is derived from when people in the Tudor period would tighten the ropes on their bed under their mattress to sleep more comfortably.

Women had “pin money” which was the money they would use to purchase the pins to attach different articles of clothing accessories, such as different sleeves and dress fronts.

Creating batches of yeast for baking bread was fascinating. I didn’t know yeast could be scraped off of fruit to use for baking. I didn’t even know that white film was yeast!

Shakespeare not only invented words, but phrases that we still use today. Some examples include: moonbeams, mountaineers, bedroom, lacklustre and hobnob. Phrases that were penned by Will include: as dead as a doornail, up in arms, it’s a foregone conclusion and all of a sudden. I know I have been influenced by this Tudor!

Goodman teaches us that Tudor ale is sweet and thick, but not very alcoholic compared to modern brews. Drinking ale was part of the populations daily nutrition. Many widows turned to making small breweries for an income. They only needed to have a bench outside of their house for customers and could make small batches of ale.

The book ends telling us:

“Whichever bed you had ended up in, it was finally time to go to sleep – lying on your right side was considered healthiest!” (p.289)

Even though I have enjoyed Goodman’s book it has a limited audience.

3.25-3.75 out of 5 stars

3 star

  • the Mother

If you liked this one try At Home by Bill Bryson.

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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